In October of 2006, Amy Rademaker and Natasha Weigel were riding in their friend Megan Ungar-Kearns’ 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. Amy Rademaker, who was just a few days away from her sixteenth birthday, was riding in the front passenger seat. Natasha Weigel, who was 18 years old, was riding in the back seat. Megan Ungar-Kearns was 17 years old at the time was driving. She is now married and now goes by Megan Phillips.
The three were driving back from a shopping trip to Walmart when the Cobalt’s defective ignition switch abruptly turned the car off causing Megan to lose control of the vehicle, drive off the back country road, fly through the air, and crash directly into a group of trees. All of the airbags in the Cobalt failed to deploy. Miraculously, Megan Philips survived, but with catastrophic injuries from the car accident. One of the most devastating aspects of this story is that GM does not count Natasha Weigel as a victim of its defective vehicles because she was in the back seat and could not have been saved by an airbag. However, without the defective ignition switch, Megan Phillips never would have lost control of the vehicle, which caused the crash in the first place. Natasha’s stepfather father, Ken Rimer, says, “I don’t know how you can count one and not the other when they died in the same vehicle. Air bags have nothing to do with the accident, other than they could have saved Amy.”
In 2007, there was a first inkling of a defect present in the Cobalt when crash investigators found that the engine was not operating at the time of the crash, but this was not truly confirmed until early 2014 when GM finally recalled Chevrolet Cobalts, including the 2005 model. Megan Phillips lived in the dark for years suffering from guilt and grief. She says, “I don’t even know if I’m angry or still in shock. I blamed myself for so long.”
The car accident which took the lives of Amy Rademaker and Natasha Weigel could easily have been prevented by an incredibly inexpensive fix to the ignition switch. Even if Megan Phillips had still veered of the road, if the airbags had deployed Amy Rademaker’s life could very likely have been saved. However, she would have suffered from severe personal injuries and possibly a mild concussion or a permanent traumatic brain injury. GM may not count Natasha Weigel among its victims but we do, and so do the other personal injury lawyers across the country who helped expose GM’s cover up.
As personal injury attorneys who serve the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, we are continually striving to fight companies who allow defective products to be sold. Whether it is a defective tire, a defective elevator, or a defective vaginal mesh implant, we are always advocating for our clients to help make the world a safer place. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury or wrongful death due to a possibly defective product, please call our attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C.